The destination of the Premier League title was decided in the most dramatic fashion last season.
While Manchester City were left jubilant with their first title in over 40 years, rivals Manchester United were left to lick their wounds.
In seasons gone by United have famed themselves on bouncing back from disappointment. With the new campaign fast approaching, here are ten reasons which could contribute to Sir Alex Ferguson's side regaining their crown.
It's been made common knowledge that United are keen to sign Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie before the transfer window slams shut at the end of August. While many believe that Ferguson's squad requires a centre-midfielder and left-back, the arrival of Van Persie may tip the scales in their favour. Van Persie scored 30 Premier League goals last season, while his potential new strike partner Wayne Rooney notched 27 times. They would arguably be one of the most feared strike forces in Europe.
United have been without a creative player from the centre of the pitch since Paul Scholes was forced to alter his game as he entered his veteran years. Japanese international Shinji Kagawa is expected to give the Red Devils just that. He scored 13 goals and created many more for his teammates as Borussia Dortmund won the Bundesliga last season. With United failing to create chances in some of the biggest games during the last campaign, Kagawa may well hold the key to unlock the door.
Better luck with injuries
At one stage last season, Ferguson had 14 injuries to contend with. During one game against Blackburn Rovers over the Christmas period, full-back Rafael and winger Park Ji-Sung formed the central midfield pairing. Any club in world football would struggle with an injury list of that size. They would have to be very unlucky to suffer a similar number of problems next season.
The pressure on Man City
Granted there was pressure on Roberto Mancini's City last season. However, this time around it will be even greater. Mancini himself has even admitted that it will be harder to win the league title the second time around. The club's owners will also be expecting a better run in the Champions League over the coming months, which will force Mancini to rotate his squad even more. It will be a type of pressure that not many at the Etihad Stadium have encountered previously. Meanwhile, United have been there, done that.
Nemanja Vidic's return
If you were naming the best central defenders in the world, then Nemanja Vidic would certainly be on that list, and near the top. The 30-year-old joined United in 2006 – and quickly became the one of club's most influential players. His season ended in December last year when he injured his knee against Basel in the Champions League – and his absence certainly affected United. The Serbian has returned to the action in pre-season and looks set to start against Everton on Monday. With Vidic in tandem with Rio Ferdinand, there a few better partnerships in world football.
David de Gea
It would probably be fair to state that the 21-year-old did not enjoy the best of starts to his United career, but boy did the media let him know about it. It was always going to be a difficult first campaign for the Spaniard, with comparisons to Edwin van der Sar extremely unhelpful to his development. However, the former Atletico Madrid stopper grew into the latter stages of the season, and began to justify his price-tag. There was never any doubt as to De Gea's quality – he is certainly Spain's future number one – but now he has sorted his head out, he will only get better.
City's key pair
There is no doubt that Joe Hart is the best goalkeeper in the Premier League, while Vincent Kompany is one of the best centre-backs in Europe. However, should one of the duo suffer injury or get suspended, City's current cover is not the greatest. When Kompany was banned for part of last season, Stefan Savic failed to fill his boots. Meanwhile, Costel Pantilimon showed that he is capable of errors during the Community Shield. In contrast, United's back-up keeper is the able Anders Lindegaard. Also, at centre-back, United have Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans as cover to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
When United signed the little-known Mexican Javier Hernandez prior to the 2010 World Cup, not many batted an eyelid. But that was certainly not the case following his first season at the club. He registered an impressive 20 goals in 45 games in the 2010-11 season, but defenders certainly became more aware of him last season. He still managed 12 goals in 36 games last season – extremely respectable – but a period of rest this summer will have certainly aided him. The 24-year-old is over the so-called second season syndrome, and looks in the mood to regain his spot in the team.
Hunger of youngsters
It is widely said that you learn more from losing than you do from winning, and that phrase is certainly true within football. The likes of David de Gea, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley missed out on the title last season, which will certainly make them hungrier to succeed this time around. They always say that the first title is the best – and the will to become a champion has only become stronger for the club's youngsters.
Sir Alex Ferguson
In some twisted way, Sir Alex Ferguson may have relished the fact that Manchester City won the title last season. That's not for one minute suggesting that he didn't want to win it, but we all know that Ferguson loves a battle, and loves to somewhat 'knock people off their perch'. A period of 25 years in charge of United has done nothing to dampen his will to succeed or his desire to return each season with the same hunger as the last. It's 12 Premier League titles for Ferguson at United, but you can be sure that the wily old fox will do everything he can to make it 13 by the time May comes around.